Sunday Book Club: Life After Coffee by Virginia Franken

I love writing these Sunday Book Club entries but they take so much time to write. I actually read more than one book every two weeks, which is the frequency at which I put up these book review posts, but the amount of effort it takes to think through the books that I’ve just read and write a post on them actually takes a whole lot more effort than writing other types of posts. I enjoy it but I do wish that I could do more of them.

This week’s selection is Life After Coffee by Virginia Franken, which is supposed to be a light-hearted and funny book about Amy, a high-powered woman who lost her job and is forced to stay at home and look after her children, rather than being the main breadwinner.

**This part of the review consist of Spoilers

Amy O’Hara was a high-powered coffee buyer who spends months on a stretch away from home and flying around the world in search of coffee beans; she is also the main, or sole, breadwinner of her household while her husband, Peter, is a stay-at-home Dad. However, she was fired after the company that she works for is acquired. The coffee industry is facing a lot of problems at the moment and she is unable to find another job as a coffee buyer.

Suddenly Amy is stuck with the care of her two pre-school children, Billy and Violet, while Peter hides himself away with the excuse of writing THE screenplay that would save them from their dire monetary situation. Amy struggles with the transition, her days now filled with other far better groomed mothers and dirty dishes. Her manipulative children turns out to be harder to handle than the corporate adults that she is used to and Amy discovers that she is completely lacking in parenting skills.

Nobody in the entertainment industry wants to work with Peter, who is well-known for his tantrums and refusal to rewrite his scripts. Money is running out, so it’s up to Amy to contact her ex-boyfriend, who happens to be a movie mogul, to employ her husband. However, he has a different agenda; it appears that he’s interested in rekindling their relationship and she’s tempted but she finds out he’s just an asshole who sleeps around.

Amy ultimately finds a job as a coffee buyer again, but on her trip to the coffee farms she discovered that she doesn’t want to do this again and took the first flight home. Instead of travelling around the world, Amy uproots her family to live on the coffee plantation which means she gets to keep her job as a coffee buyer and spend time with her family. Peter did not manage to sell his screenplay, but has somewhat successfully published a novel.

Final Thoughts

If you read the spoiler above, you’d have realised that I lost interest in writing it half way through, which is pretty much reflective of my interest in the book. I think the first half of the book was relatively interesting, but then it got really irritating and repetitive, and somewhat ridiculous, towards the latter half.

This book made me rather frustrated with the characters. Sometimes it’s a sign that the book is relatively good if you get interested in the characters, but this time the characters are too irritating. The husband is annoying and not likeable with his reluctance to find a job and inability to see that his script will never sell. I also find Amy to be really… stupid? She did not sound at all like a high-powered woman, with her falling-for-the-ex situations and I also don’t see how they can run out of money so quickly if she was a high-powered woman.

The ex-boyfriend situation was really far-fetched; he sounds like a sleaze-ball so I don’t understand Amy’s attraction to him (but of course, she also has a loser of a husband). The most ridiculous is the situation where her 5-year-old son emailed her husband’s script out to a guy in the entertainment industry; there’s no way anyone that age plans that out.

I’m not a mother but I have had a relatively high-powered job before and I really hate reading books where the protagonist is supposed to be a high-powered woman but turns out to be a whiny little stupid helpless bitch. The first half of the book where Amy learns to be a mother is quite funny, but it quickly deteriorates in the second half of the book when you realise that she really is just useless at everything. I did like how the ending turns out, which I think is a nice and happy end to this kind of story.

In all, I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. It’s not terrible writing, but it was a real drag for me to push through the second half of the book.

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